US Politics and policy and Syria


US politics.   I am more convinced than ever that HC will be president.  IMO the NY Times estimate of an 80% chance of that happening is "on the money" unless there is a much larger hidden pro-Trump, pro-Republican vote than anyone in the media believes.  I think there is such a vote but doubt that it will be big enough to carry the day for him.  The consequences of her election will be fell indeed.  IMO she will follow a reckless path toward the ideal future she desires.   I doubt that the Republicans will lose control of the House of Representatives and their possession of many state governments will be obstacles to her desires.  The use of Executive Orders is likely to be frequent.  The police powers of the federal government will be to be heavily used.

US foreign policy.   IMO she is going to be frustrated in her desire to make all the world's children (populations and governments alike) behave as she thinks they should.  she understands very little of the nuts and bolts of military affairs and imagines that symbolic uses of military forces will result in compliance with her desired result.  This will be reflected in things like declarations of "safe zones" in hostile territory without regard to the cost in blood and treasure.

Turkey, Russia and the US.  So far, Turkey appears to be a "top"  in this three sided game of international affairs.  the Turks are not subtle. The sainted occupant of the caliphal throne in Ankara succeeded in bullying the EU into giving him six billion Golden Greckels (euros for you Germans), and now has brought Obama/Biden/Kerry  to heel in the matter of our wayward support of Syrian Kurds.  "All the world wondered."  I will not comment further on the tactical situation east of Aleppo City.  TTG does a great job on that.  But….  It does surely seem to be the case that the US is now Erdogan's bitch.

 Syria tactical.  The recent negotiated surrender of rebel forces near Damascus and the progress made in recapturing East Ghouta are very helpful to R+6.  About 3,000 soldiers will be freed up for movement north to the Aleppo City battle.  IMO unicorn/jihadi losses in the Aleppo battle have been severe and the reinforcements coming from the south will contribute to an even higher body count inflicted on the rebels.  The break in the R+6 siege lines around East Aleppo has not been useful as a supply route because it is covered by fire.  IMO that will continue to be the case and the starving will continue there.  I would wager that there are few live dogs or cats in the rebel occupied area.    Will Turkey attempt to intervene directly in the Aleppo battle?  I doubt it.

Syria diplomacy.  The Obamanite fantasists still seem to believe that the Russians can be talked into abandoning their Syrian allies.   pl

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49 Responses to US Politics and policy and Syria

  1. Well, the Kurds and their Arab allies are now being pushed back from Jarabulus. It was just a matter of time. The old saying is true. The Kurds have no friends than the mountains. My question now is if Baghdad abhors a Rojava more than an IS with a robust supply line to their Turkish sugar daddy.

  2. Herb says:

    Yes, barring some Clinton catastrophe, she will be president.
    I agree entirely that she will be more militarily reckless in foreign affairs than Obama. Less than GWB, but still, more reckless than Obama who has largely confined his militarism to drones and advisors since she left State. But she is going to be drastically confounded by a majority Republican house that won’t want her to have a success of any kind, and/or a large Republican minority, if not continued majority in the Senate. The Democrats in the house and senate are by and large also opposed to her militarism, but there is a bipartisan borg war party.
    Syria is even more complicated post “coup” than it was before, if possible. America may be Erdogan’s bitch, but who’s bitch is Erdogan? He was rebuffed by Putin, and ISIL is making life difficult internally, something about “insufficient enthusiasm”. It should be pretty obvious that this rebellion is over, and all that is left to know is how long it will take, how many will be killed, and what the map looks like afterward. That is probably where the “Kurds back to east of Euphrates” comes from; drawing the map.
    My main worry about Clinton is Iran, and that she will feed the elements that want to break that treaty through attrition, so we are back again facing war with Iran.

  3. turcopolier says:

    Not bad. It is not clear to me that Erdogan is anyone’s bitch. We will see… Yes, Clinton will be opposed by the Republicans in Congress but we must remember that although the Congress can deny funding or seek to impeach, these are very blunt tools and in our system the president/CinC can make war without congressional permission. Yes, Assad will continue to rule most of Syria. pl

  4. BrotherJoe says:

    Is there any possibility, however remote, of China sending men/armaments to Syria as a riposte to our “pivot to the East”. I keep thinking about the Book of Revelations reference to the “kings of the East”.

  5. Haralambos says:

    Welcome home, belatedly, and thank you for more food for thought, especially regarding our backyard here in Greece.

  6. Walrus says:

    The first casualty of a Clinton Presidency will be blogs like this. Bank on it.

  7. turcopolier says:

    Maybe I’ll shut it down when she is inaugurated. pl

  8. Outrage Beyond says:

    I think what Walrus is alluding to is a far more vicious Clinton war on free speech in general; and a particularly murderous focus on whistleblowing.

  9. Allen Thomson says:

    > Maybe I’ll shut it down when she is inaugurated. pl
    Oh, no! The Clinton Presidency is exactly when SST would be most valuable. I, contra many here, don’t think that the Clintonate would automatically be a disaster, but it sure would need close watching. Hence SST.

  10. Walrus,
    The situation under a Trump Administration might be worse. He wants to “open up” libel laws so it’s easier to sue critics. And he is notoriously thin skinned.

  11. Chris Chuba says:

    Turkey / Syria / U.S.
    Erdogan is very crafty which is why I said that I will refrain from making predictions on what he is going to do. He is a survivor. The thing that frustrates me is that the Borg are so fixated on Russia that Erdogan can play that card at will to manipulate us. I have read some pretty convincing articles on how his rapprochement with Russia/Iran is logical on its own merits but I believe that he is doing this to pull our strings as well.
    The next few weeks in Syria are going to be really interesting. There is rumor of some grand new agreement but in the short term it just looks like R+6 is content to pursue taking Aleppo, Turkey to push the Kurds back and the U.S. to observe what looks like a de facto partition of Syria, unless Turkey tells them otherwise (my humble opinion of course).
    It has become conventional wisdom that Hillary is some sort of genius on foreign affairs but she is just the type of person that Erdogan can wrap around his finger. Since Trump does not suffer from this need to punish Russia for some perceived offenses against us, he would be less susceptible to this manipulation but this is looking more like a hypothetical. If Assange really does have more emails to leak that will reveal how vile HRC really is, I hope he has a food taster.
    (too many topics but I can’t resist), the consortium had two excellent articles on the Clinton Kosovo intervention.
    Milosevic has been exonerated in the Hague Investigation of all war crimes related to the Bosnian war. I lost whatever respect I might have had for Bill Clinton and Hillary is cut from the same interventionist clothe.

  12. crf says:

    I wonder if Clinton will try at the bat an African and Asia policy coordinating financial aspects, military alliances, aid and science. Such ideas might have bipartisan congressional prospects. She can point to Japan and China making huge investments in Africa and ask Congress why the US can’t, and why US influence has been allowed to wither. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are worse off, especially socially, for the neglect shown by the US. For example: Saudi Arabia might be extremely crude in massively bribing the Malaysian PM to do their bidding, but the US does have methods (aid and investment) to counteract this, if the US chose to use them.
    Unexpected events can sometimes have an effect on steering foreign policy in new directions. Clinton hasn’t been skilled in using outside events in the past, but she (unlike Obama) seems to on guard to the possibility.

  13. Jack says:

    That is when SST and your analysis would be needed the most. If the Borg Queen is crowned as the Empress, the Borg will revel in its triumph and what limited characteristics of a constitutional republic that remains will be under assault. The only zones of realism that will likely remain will be committee’s like SST. It would be a tragedy if they were shutdown.

  14. Lemur says:

    There was an article in Pravda Report complaining the Chinese were moving in with their investment dollars while Russia did the dirty work and shouldered the political risk.

  15. Herb says:

    My opinion is that that Erdogan is also pushing the limits to determine if he is boss.

  16. Lemur says:

    If Trump loses, the incoming Clinton administration will have to deal with the white hot rage of flyover country. So her initial focus may be on domestic matters. US is fast approaching eighties USSR – ethnic tensions, imperial overreach, atrophying economic system, duplicitous elites, etc.

  17. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to The Twisted Genius 28 August 2016 at 07:58 PM
    He’s very quick to have his lawyers issue writs.

  18. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to turcopolier 28 August 2016 at 06:58 PM
    I hope you do not as I feel that America is at present caught between the Devil and deep blue sea.

  19. johnf says:

    “Maybe I’ll shut it down when she is inaugurated. pl ”
    Just you dare!

  20. ToivoS says:

    People seem to over-estimate Hillary’s intelligence. I think she is quite stupid,at least at the level of taking in the big picture. Her talents lie in her abilities to engage in short term manipulation. As is the case for many stupid people she seems to surround herself with other stupid people or obsequious toadies. The big danger with her is that she will not be getting any good advice or will be impervious to it if she does.
    I doubt that she intends to engage Russia in a shooting war but I fear that her efforts to intimidate Russia (or China) will lead to a situation where the Russians will feel sufficiently threatened and will strike back. Somehow I doubt she will recognize when she has crossed that line Russia is warning us about (especially being surrounded by the neocons who really do want war) and will blunder into a terrible conflict.

  21. Nightsticker says:

    Col Lang,
    Glad you are back. You were well served by
    the guest editors in your absence.
    I am sitting here on a river cruise boat slowly going
    from Budapest to Amsterdam. Rather mixed clientele;
    I represent myself as a retired systems engineer in response
    to the frequent “what did you do?” This rules out my
    best stories but at least I don’t have to look
    over my shoulder so much. Very dodgy internet
    connections. SST is the first place I go to
    when there is a connection.

  22. turcopolier says:

    Budapest to Amsterdam? There must be acanal or two in there somewhere. pl

  23. Chris Chuba says:

    On the subject of Erdogan’s unpredictability, I read an article (sorry I don’t have a link) where the author argued that he might actually favor a partitioned Syria with a separate Kurdistan. Now after you stop laughing, his argument is that if the Kurds had their own state carved out of Syria then it could serve as a place to ethnically cleanse the troublesome Kurds out of Turkey. In effect it could be a lightning rod.
    Do I believe this? As I said, I’m done trying to figure out Erdogan. However, I do believe that he is smart enough to sell this idea to the U.S. if he believes that we want to hear this, or perhaps it could be part of his grand scheme. All I know is that I believe that we are on the short end of the stick in terms of leverage.
    Erdogan is both smarter than his counter parts and he has more leverage. I don’t like the place that we are in.

  24. MRW says:

    I fear you are correct, ToivoS.

  25. LeaNder says:

    Seriously, could we force him legally as some type of SSTC United?

  26. LeaNder says:

    Interesting journey, I agree. I love the Rhine Valley, pretty nationalist, I admit. Nightstalker on his way might need to take the Danube/Donau though, which admittedly I don’t know as well. 😉 … But some on the steps on his route.

  27. LeaNder says:

    Ok, sorry, yes there must be. Obviously.
    thanks to my old Greek dictionary on feet, I also got better in geography, within limits.

  28. Anna says:

    Mrs. Clinton is a religious fanatic bent on getting personal power. A sorry combination. She is a member of the infamous Fellowship, a secretive Capitol Hill nest of evangelicals:
    “…the Fellowship’s more significant work was its invisible ministry to political leaders, dating back to the New Deal era. Through the years, small Fellowship-inspired prayer groups have held weekly meetings in the Pentagon, in the Attorney General’s office, in various congressional hideaways inside the Capitol, and in the White House itself. The Fellowship has offered succor to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, to Dwight Eisenhower and Marion Barry, and to many of the Watergate felons…. a sort of theocratic Blackwater, advancing a conservative agenda in the councils of power throughout the world.”
    I agree that independent media in this country is going to be censured. This will only make the many problems deadlier.

  29. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to Chris Chuba 28 August 2016 at 08:36 PM
    “It has become conventional wisdom that Hillary is some sort of genius on foreign affairs ”
    For whom has this become conventional wisdom?

  30. morgan says:

    Maybe so, but I doubt he will appoint more Ruth bader Ginsbergs to the Supreme Court, like Hillary will.

  31. pmr9 says:

    Syria diplomacy is likely to be set back tomorrow when the UNSC discusses the report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) into who perpetrated alleged chemical attacks in Syria. Some notes on this may be of interest to the SST community. I had hoped that the Russian Foreign Ministry would have an effective rebuttal ready, but so far it seems they haven’t.
    The original remit of the JIM assigned by a UNSC resolution was to investigate all alleged chemical attacks in Syria, but somehow they have managed to exclude the 2013 sarin attacks (where, as discussed earlier on SST by David Habakkuk, there is now solid forensic evidence that the sarin did not come from regime stocks) and instead have restricted their investigation to the alleged chlorine attacks in 2015, together with some other incidents in which IS is alleged to have used chemical agents. The NYT and the Guardian have reported that the JIM report blames the regime for these alleged chlorine attacks.
    As I described in a comment on an earlier post, there is fairly strong evidence that the alleged chlorine attacks in Syria in 2015 were a hoax, Specifically, at the ACLOS website we have examined the alleged attack in Sarmin on 16 March 2015 which was reported to have killed six members of one family. A video of family members dead or dying in hospital was shown to the UNSC by Samantha Power, together with the testimony of Dr Tennari, who claimed to have treated them in the emergency room.
    I noted that:-
    1. The clinical signs in the one-year old boy, who is allowed to die without respiratory support in the emergency room, are consistent with an opiate overdose, not with chlorine
    2. Dr Tennari is not seen in any of the clinic videos though he claims to have personally treated the family. Other points in his testimony are inconsistent with the videos.
    3. All original sources for the alleged attack, including the videos uploaded by the White Helmets, are closely linked with the Nusra Front which is in control of this area.
    More recently (October 2015) an OPCW report has added some bizarre details to this incident:-
    4. The red liquid seen in the family home and at sites of other alleged chlorine attacks is potassium permanganate. This was allegedly used in barrel bombs to generate chlorine by reacting with hydrochloric acid. A detailed drawing of an alleged barrel bomb based on this reaction is provided by the OPCW. This design is frankly preposterous (quantities all wrong, no chance for reagents to mix, reaction too slow). If the Syrian regime wanted to drop chlorine on people, it would just drop cylinders of chlorine. High explosive would be far more lethal than chlorine anyway. A best guess is that the permanganate reaction was used to generate chlorine at the site of the alleged attacks.
    5. The barrel bomb which allegedly killed the family was 1 to 1.5 metres in diameter, and one of two such devices dropped from helicopters over the town that night. It allegedly fell down the ventilation shaft of the family’s house, where it exploded in their basement.

  32. johnf says:

    I prefer direct action.
    I could send my mum across The Atlantic to sort him out.
    She’s five foot tall, Glaswegian, with red hair and a foul temper. She’s been dead 10 years but that wouldn’t stop her.

  33. pmr9 says:

    Update on the above – Adam Larson has just posted a detailed summary of the chlorine story with links to original sources at
    There’s also a revealing quote from a US intelligence official in a Daily Beast article published last week.

    “We weren’t getting enough political oomph when the chlorine attacks first came to light. So we figured the best option was to work through the slow UN process, get the Russians to a place where they’re cornered diplomatically,” the intelligence official said. Plus, the official added, finger pointing by the United States alone wouldn’t be nearly as effective as collective action. “You know the way the Russians treat anything Syria-related,” the official said. “If we bring it forward, the Russians would reject it out of hand. So we helped OPCW uncover it on its own.”

  34. Herb says:

    Regarding Milosevic being “exonerated” by the Hague. You are seriously drinking war criminal, mass-murderer apoligist koolaid.That has not happened and never will happen, and the Hague has specifically refuted that claim. This is dangerous territory, the region could again slip back into conflict and rhetoric like this needs to be squashed like a bug.

  35. steve says:

    Hillary is an awful campaigner. She could still easily lose. If she wins, I don’t see her generating the enthusiasm for a wave election. The GOP keeps at least the House. Therefore, on domestic issues we will mostly have gridlock, like we do now. On foreign affairs she will have more freedom, but I think she would really have to go against the polls to involve us in any real adventures.Bill certainly watched polls and I would expect her to do the same.

  36. turcopolier says:

    Bill is a self serving opportunist. She is driven by her destiny as well as her greed. She will be reckless. pl

  37. Colonel Lang,
    Reading the ‘Borgist’ media, in Britain as well as the United States, in the wake of the Russian intervention in Syria, the depth of their commitment of ‘Assad must go’ became absolutely clear – as also their total inability to try to make any intelligible sense of what was driving Putin’s policy.
    This does not seem to me totally irrational, in that I can certainly see reasons why Zionists see Hizbollah missile capabilities as ‘existential threat’, and so are desperate to destroy the ‘Shia Crescent’ their own folly did so much to create.
    By the same token, the British ‘Borg’ at least have every interest in persuading others, and indeed themselves, to ignore the obvious fact: the ‘Shia Crescent’ is not an ‘existential threat’ to us, while jihadist terrorism is.
    So they lie both to others and to themselves, and end up in a mental fog in which their capacity to assess the risks of the courses of action they favour is, to put it mildly, severely impaired.
    I think that anyone who is confident that Hillary will avoid high-stakes gambles in Syria – or indeed in Ukraine – is fooling themselves.

  38. rjj says:

    Is she (The Mom) related to Tyler??? I figured he was Welsh, but….

  39. Chris Chuba says:

    I have a question for those who are familiar with chemical weapons. Assuming that the Syrian army does not have a shortage of conventional explosives, why use chlorine at all just as a practical issue?
    Sarin, yeah, I can see that. It’s a nerve agent, it looks pretty efficient in terms of killing. Mustard gas, crude, but it looks more useful than chlorine gas because it just requires skin contact. In WW1, it looks like they switched to Phosgene gas really fast.
    I didn’t read the report yet but in the one or two attacks that I saw in the news releases, the chlorine attacks had a relatively low body count. I don’t see the logic in the Syrian Army using it given the drawback of possible foreign intervention and better alternatives.
    If anyone has expertise on comparing conventional explosives to these home made chlorine weapons, I’d appreciate it.

  40. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Paul Wolfowitz says he’s likely to vote for Hilary. Oh, and he doesn’t feel any responsibility for rise of IS. It’s Syria’s fault.

  41. Allen Thomson says:

    >why use chlorine at all just as a practical issue?
    IMO, having looked at this for a while, in current circumstances chemical and radiological weapons are mostly instruments of psychological warfare. And very effective ones too: people are very scared of them, and that’s what makes them more effective than plain old HE for political purposes. Actual deaths per kilogram of weapon isn’t really the point.
    In other circumstances the answer might be different.

  42. different clue says:

    David Habakkuk,
    I wonder if another co-motive is also at play among the Borgies. Assad was supposed flee whimpering at the first sign of protest in the streets. He did not do that. His defiant resistance must have infuriated the Borg over his impertinence at staying in power where Yanukovich folded and fled under similar circumstances. And his lasting in power till this very day moves the Borg from burning rage-based hate to deep fear that “American credibility” will be lost if Assad remains in power over any part of Syria, however small. Because if the Borg could not “regime-change” Syria, who else will the Borg not be able to “regime-change”?
    Could there be anything to my suggestion of power-political and psychological motivations and drives in the Borg’s comment to Assad Must Go?

  43. johnf says:

    I doubt it. She was a communist. But she did use to date American GI’s during the war.

  44. johnf says:

    In reply to DH
    I do see certain signs of change. I’ve already pointed out the recent Torygraph article exposing Israel’s role in the killing of British servicemen in The Falklands, and the Mail in the last couple of days (having already allowed Peter Oborne to report from West Aleppo on the horrors they are facing) published an article on a West Aleppo mother receiving a call from an al Qaeda member in East Aleppo (and they explain al Qaeda is the main force in East Aleppo) who had just beheaded her son, picked up his mobile phone, and phoned her to taunt her.
    I do remember The Mail was the only peper to consistently oppose our taking part in the Iraq War.

  45. Ghostship says:

    Until the fighting is over that is a very high risk investment. After the surrender of Darayya there is a need to rebuild that and the area there about very quickly(as in Grozny after Chechen War 2) to rehouse people who have been displaced by the fighting so perhaps that is where the Chinese will spend their money.
    As for the Chinese providing soldiers, I doubt it as they would be presented as an “occupying army” just as the Russians would have been. I’m still waiting for the Chinese to start churning out $25 JDAM knock-offs by the hundreds of thousands as Manbij seemed to show how more effective PGMs are than the Russian computerised bombing system. While they’re about it the Chinese should do a JDAM-like device for Grad, Urugan and Smerch rockets and a cheap hunter-killer suicide drone.

  46. The Beaver says:

    She will be surrounded by people like the social worker or Victoria ( doing the work for her clan) or smart— like Neera Tanden who wanted Libya to pay back for the good work to bring peace and democracy to them:
    These days she is on HRC transition team , should she become the next POTUS:

  47. The Beaver says:

    Have you ever seen her:HRC “private blog”?
    Wonder how is maintaining and updating that blog.
    Found it when I was looking for info on Neera Tanden

  48. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to Chris Chuba 29 August 2016 at 03:38 PM
    Chlorine munitions have a particular resonance in Iraq and in any country that took in a large number of Iraqi refugees either during Saddam’s era (Gas attacks during Saddam’s war with Iran). The horror of gas munitions is very fresh in Iraqi (and Iranian) minds and there was very vivid reporting throughout the Arab world. Syria was very generous to Iraqi refugees and hosted very large numbers of them so chlorine attacks or more properly the fear of chlorine attacks would resonate greatly there far more than they would in for example Egypt or Morocco.
    During the American occupation of Iraq there were a fair number of attacks by Ba’ath fighters on civilian targets most were bombs but there were also number using chlorine gas. If you were to do a bit of digging through the reports you’d soon see that these attacks even when they succeeded in releasing gas (which they didn’t always succeed in doing) didn’t manage to kill very many people what they did succeed in doing was in spreading fear, alarm, and despondency.
    Final point – chlorine is cheap and easy to produce so easy to produce that often have to take precautions against producing it accidentally. This is why, for example in hospitals, there are clear procedures for handling sodium hypochlorite to prevent just such an occasion arising.

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